New saddle: Specialized Power Pro
I installed the Selle Italia Max Flite Gel Flow on my 2013 Madone right after getting the bike in August 2013. I put 20,227 miles/32,552 kilometers on that saddle, and finally retired it June 2015 after it began to literally fall apart.
The Selle Italia saddle was never a great match for me, and I suffered from saddle sores and general discomfort on a fairly frequent basis. The 167 mile Cross-Florida ride was particularly painful. Why didn’t I replace it before it began to disintegrate? Good question. Lazy, I guess. I would rate my comfort on the Selle Italia a 6 out of 10, so I guess that was not a low enough score to push me into a new saddle.
I’d done quite a bit of research on saddles by the time I retired the Selle Italia, and I decided that I needed to give an ISM saddle a shot. Some people swear by ISM saddles, including some guys I ride with, and I figured I owed it to myself to bolt one on and give it a fair shake. I even called ISM and had a long conversation with a very helpful sales rep, who eventually recommended the Breakaway model.
I rode the Breakaway saddle for a full month, logging more than 1,300 miles on it. I carefully followed ISM’s setup/adjustment recommendations, and I also adhered to their recommendation to start off with shorter rides. After a week I had developed painful saddle sores, and in general was in a lot of pain while riding. In the ensuing weeks I tried all sorts of adjustments and tweaks, and nothing helped. I suffered with those saddle sores for the entire month, and I can honestly say I’ve never been in more pain on a bike. The saddle was quite literally ruining the enjoyment of my rides.
Towards the end of my month on the ISM, I did a ride with a couple of friends, Christopher and Rafael. Rafael was also on an ISM saddle, and he described the EXACT same sort of saddle sores that I was dealing with.
I don’t even know if “saddle sore” is the correct nomenclature. It’s more of a long (1/2 inch or so) under the skin bubble that runs along area where my leg meets my body. It never went away the entire month; in fact, it actually got worse. Every pedal stroke aggravated the sore, and the longer I rode the more it hurt.
Anyway, I’d already all but decided to return the ISM, but after hearing that Rafael was dealing with the same thing I was, that cemented it. I would rate my comfort level on the Breakaway a 2 out of 10.
A couple weeks prior, my friend Hector had purchased a new saddle, the Specialized Power Pro. The Power pro has minimal padding, a carbon fiber shell, hollow Ti rails, a huge cutout and a truncated nose. In short, it is designed for cyclists who spend most of their time in the aero position (that’s me). The more Hector rode the saddle, the more he liked it. I decided to pick one up and give it a whirl:
The saddle will set you back a couple hundred bones, which is a little less expensive than the ISM saddle I returned for a refund.
I bolted the Power Pro up on July 26th (actually the night before), and over the past 10 days I have logged 360 miles on it. During that time my saddle sores have all but gone away, and my comfort on the bike has truly never been better. I have not done any long rides on the saddle yet, but I’ve done several 50 mile rides.
I did a 52 mile ride on Sunday, and I can honestly say I never once thought about the saddle–which is how it should be.
I’ll be doing a 100 mile ride on the saddle this week, so that will be another excellent test of its comfort on long rides. I really don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
Right now I’d rate my comfort level on the Power Pro a solid 8 of 10. This is definitely the most comfortable I’ve ever been on a road bike.
Here are a few pictures of the Power Pro mounted on my Madone: